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Pragmatism, Not Ideology

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has republished this interesting interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in which he tries to explain his country’s increased interest in Latin America. The interview, excerpted from an article in a Latin America studies journal, has been summarized nicely by the Chinese media, but we thought we’d provide a choice sample:

Question: “An upsurge is currently being observed in our ties with the Latin American regimes attributable to the so called Left Turn. And how do matters stand in relations with other governments?”

Foreign Minister Lavrov: “In developing relations with the countries of Latin America, we are not guided by ideological approaches, but by considerations of mutual advantage and pragmatism. Of course, we also take into account the reciprocal interest in strengthening cooperation with our country.

“Dividing Latin American leaders into “left-wing” and “right-wing” is highly provisional, and not infrequently this is being used for unseemly purposes, to exert purposeful political influence through the formation of some or other cliches in the global information space.

“At the same time one cannot fail to see that new political forces have in recent years come to power in most Latin American countries on a wave of popular disillusionment with the ability of traditional elites to secure a real improvement of life on the basis of neoconservative recipes. The interest they show in diversifying the external ties of their states objectively contributes to the development of Russian-Latin American relations.”

Question: “Some media are presenting Russia’s turn to Latin America as supposedly a return to the Cold War between East and West. What do you think about this?”

Foreign Minister Lavrov: “These assertions do not correspond toreality. The Latin American direction is a separate vector of Russianforeign policy, which is defined in its July Concept as multivector.The development of our relations with the continent’s countries is notdirected against anyone. Our partners understand this both in the USand in leading West European states, who have repeatedly, publicly andin contacts with us emphasized that an intensified engagement betweenRussia and the countries of Latin America are not seen by them as athreat to their interests. By the way, Russian-American deputy foreignminister level consultations on Latin America were held in Moscowrecently that reaffirmed this mindset – no one is going to “divide”anyone here. In general, speculations on the theme of a struggle forspheres of influence, in our view, are based on the perceptions andterms of the past era and do not reflect the realities of thecontemporary globalizing world.”